It was a long night at the tent. It’s getting colder at night too and it looks like a building is going to be erected on the site of the tent as the weather makes Tenting not the best solution for a determined group of people.
What amazed me most as I sat with the capacity crowd was the quiet. Not that people weren’t speaking and not that they didn’t have something to say. There were a lot of upset people. There was a lot of concern; there was anger, fear, some saying “I told you so”. What amazed me most was the politeness and the way that people didn’t interrupt each other while speaking. People listened without rumbling to themselves. It was quite the event to witness.
Essentially the time line that I’ve put together stems from the Pow Wow last week. That comments made by CBSA staff to residents of Akwesasne was that there were a lot of people who didn’t report to Canada Customs so a crack down was ordered by the Harper Government; conveniently after Mr Layton gave same government a reprieve.
I wonder if Mr. Layton would’ve given the government his support if he knew of the actions and impounding of vehicles?
Friday September 18, 2009 CBSA impounded at least six vehicles according to what was said in the tent. Apparently Chief Mitchell had to help pay the $1000.00 bounties using a credit card as cheques were refused for some of the victims.
We’ve ran the press release from the MCA yesterday who for some reason did not attend the meeting at the People’s Fire tent.
Before the Tent meeting started, around 6PM Sheree Bonaparte came into the tent and warned people that CBSA said that if they felt any threat from the Island they would close the post. I’m not sure why such a claim would be made as the post is armed, on Canadian soil, and have back up by the RCMP, OPP, and Cornwall and Akwesasne Police Forces while I saw no weapons of any sort on anyone in the tent.
All attempts by myself last night to confirm any information from CBSA staff on any issue were deferred to a phone number in Ottawa that only was open from 9-5 weekdays.
Some tid bits from the Tent Meeting. That there is a roster of thousands of vehicles that didn’t report to CBSA. That this was a new Pressure Tactic by CBSA (Canada) to get the People’s Fire group to pull down their tent as it’s believed that Canada Customs wants not only to return to their station, but to take over the land that the tent is on to expand the facility.
“..not a very good move if they want to come back.” was something I heard a few times. Issues like selective arrest also came into play.
At issue in the tent was the identity of the Island residents. Many feel that the MCA doesn’t represent the people of Akwesasne, but was created by the Canadian Government and essentially is a very well paid branch of the Government and that by having band status that natives give up their rights to land claims which also are at the root of many of the issues across Canada.
More and more residents are renouncing their status cards and essentially renouncing their citizenship in Canada so as to assert their land claims and rights from the Camel’s Eye Treaty.
They have these cards which in a way are supposed to act as Passports stating the terms of the treaty; essentially allowing for freedom of movement.
The claim being that the US/Canada have no authority over non-band Indians and thus not falling under CBSA or MCA authority.
One gentlemen near me said that “If you don’t know your rights they are going to pull you over.” He may be right as when I returned the CBSA demanded my ID. When I explained I never left Canada and just went to cover the story on the Island she persistently asked me two more times before giving up.
In the meanwhile they are purchasing lumber and building materials with their collection of money and not using any monies from the MCA to erect a building on the tent site. They are advising to not cross the bridge alone, but in groups and have made a phone list to call in case of detainment.
A lot of people were also upset that no Chiefs from the MCA were present to update them and offer support.
“Unity and Peace of the People are Power” was another quote shared. More quotes “Canada’s Mad” the perception being that residents of the Island are feeling that Canadians are being turned against them by the government. That the government is again refusing to negotiate with them.
Many feel that the government is looking for excuses to close the bridge and bring in the army but that they will stick together as a community and peacefully resolve the crisis.
The feeling in the tent is that they wanted the CBSA to never return to the Island; have the old customs building turned over to them and grant Canada a right of way through the reserve.
And there was talk of boycotting Cornwall; until it was safer to cross the bridge.
Friday’s actions have really been a setback for our area.
What do you think? If you’re a resident or Cornwall, Akwesasne, Massena or the area post your comments or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also call us at 613.361.1755 as we’ll be updating this subject constantly as news evolves.
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